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I should like to inform the House that I am the president of the Lincolnshire branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association. I commend Dr Whitford for her moving speech, and all those who have spoken this morning. I also commend Rob Marris for choosing an emotive issue for his private Member’s Bill. It is no small achievement to have populated the House so well on a Friday, but my praise for him stops there.
Many of us fear that the Bill will induce uncertainty and suspicion and have the potential to fracture the doctor-patient relationship at the most critical time, when patients with the most severe illnesses are at their most vulnerable and in desperate need of sympathetic encouragement. Further, assisted dying would devalue any extra development or funding for advances in palliative care, reducing the quality of care that those wishing to receive it could and should receive at the end of their life.
Rev. Ian Silk of St George’s church in Swallowbeck in my constituency is a good friend of the Bishop of Carlisle, who is leading on this issue in the other House. The bishop believes that a change in the law would come at the cost of placing many thousands of vulnerable people at risk, and he has stated:
“Terminally ill people deserve to be surrounded with love, compassion and care, not called to make a choice between dying prematurely and being a burden. The only effective safeguard against this pressure is to keep the law as it is.”